News Center

News News details

Companies urged to hit the Belt and Road despite government

DateTime : 2019-05-08
ClickCount : 31

Companies urged to hit the Belt and Road despite government
The Belt and Road Forum in Beijing has drawn worldwid attention. Picture: AP



12:00AM APRIL 26, 2019

The chief executive of the Australia China Business Council, Helen Sawczak, has urged Australian companies to look at the business potential of China’s multi-billion- dollar Belt and Road initiative, despite the fact that Australia has not signed up to it.

“They shouldn’t be frightened by the fact that Australia hasn’t signed a memorandum of understanding on the BRI,” Ms Sawczak told the Australian yesterday on the sidelines of a chief executive forum at the second BRI conference in Beijing.

“The fact that Australia has not signed an MOU will not preclude companies from participating in BRI projects.”

Victoria is the only government in Australia to have signed an MOU on the BRI.

Ms Sawczak said yesterday’s business forum, which also included signing ceremonies for major deals and extensive networking opportunities, showed that information about the business potential of BRI projects was probably easier to obtain for companies from countries that were BRI signatories.

Announced by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road initiative is a broad China-driven agenda to boost trade, infrastructure and people-to-people co-operation between China and Asia, Europe and Africa, inspired by the Silk Road trade routes of the past.

China’s Ministry of Commerce has estimated that China has invested some $US15 billion ($21.4bn) a year on BRI projects around the world over the past four years.

But the concept, which started with a string of infrastructure projects around the world including ports and railways, is rapidly developing into a broader vision of China-led business connectivity.

While it was initially conceived as being largely to strengthen trade routes from China westward to central Asia and Europe, it has been broadened to include infrastructure and trade-driven projects between China and signatory countries.

This week’s business forum, staged ahead of today’s meeting of some 40 world leaders in Beijing, has drawn in business leaders from the more than 120 countries that have signed up to the BRI, including Russia, South Africa, Italy, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Malaysia, Nepal and New Zealand. Australian companies listed as sending representatives to the invitation-only chief executive forum included Commonwealth Bank, QBE Insurance, Rio Tinto, Woodside and engineering firm WorleyParsons.

A Woodside spokesman told The Australian: “The BRI Forum has emphasised both the scale of the infrastructure investment needed to boost living standards, and also the need to make that investment sustainably.

“This highlights the important role for Australian natural gas exports and the projects that Woodside is pursuing.”

Yesterday’s event saw a high proportion of executives from the finance and insurance industry, with Standard Chartered Bank chairman, Spanish economist and businessman Jose Vinals a keynote speaker, a sign that more companies were recognising the financial potential around multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects.

The conference also included representatives from Citibank, Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance.

New Zealand dairy group Fonterra was listed as having five representatives at the chief executive meeting.

While the US has not signed up as a participant in the BRI, the Walt Disney group, which has theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong, was listed as having six representatives at the forum. Other US companies included Dow, PwC, the Nielsen research group, Boston Consulting and semiconductor company Qualcomm.

The lieutenant governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis, was also a keynote speaker at the CEO forum yesterday.

Other companies represented yesterday included Hamburg Harbour, Indonesia’s Sinar Mas, Nepal Telecom, pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Merck, the Cavendish group, Arup, Ukrainian Railways, Brazilian iron ore giant Vale and the Colombian Coffee Growers’ Federation.

Ms Sawczak said yesterday’s forum of chief executives, the first at a BRI conference, showed that the BRI was drawing interest from the private sector.

She said there was also increasing evidence to show that China was taking into account recent criticisms of the BRI and the need for more transparency and global corporate governance standards.

She said the comments at yesterday’s conference showed that “Belt and Road is alive and they are taking on board advice and looking at bringing more transparency in projects.

“There has been a lot of criticism about BRI projects being debt traps, but having companies like Standard Chartered involved and countries such as Italy and Switzerland will help bring transparency and corporate governance to the projects,” she said.

“It is not a one-way street. The Chinese are listening.”


Share to :
Shanghai Jun Sheng Equity Investment Fund Management Co., Ltd.
Copyright © © 2017 Shanghai Jun Sheng Equity Investment Fund Management Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Back to the top